The Prophet married his first wife, Khadijah, when he was in his mid-twenties. She gave him six children over a period of 10 years. All six children were born before he received his first revelations, to become Godâs Prophet and messenger. He then lived with his first wife for 15 more years before she died. She gave him no more children. After she died, he married nine other wives, three of whom had children by earlier marriages, but none of them gave him any child, although all of them except Sawdah were of childbearing age. Then he had an Egyptian slave girl sent to him as a gift by the ruler of Egypt. She gave him his last child, a son whom he named Ibraheem, after his great ancestor, Prophet Abraham.
Why was Muhammad (peace be upon him) denied having sons who would grow up and give him support? We remember that his grandfather, Abd Al-Muttalib, prayed to God to grant him 10 sons to grow up and give him protection. He did so at the time when he was commanded to dig up the well of Zamzam. When he did so, helped by his only son at the time, his people wanted to take the well from him. He wished to have his own sons to protect him. Had the Prophet had sons who were young men at the time when he faced determined opposition by the unbelievers, they could have given him the support that seemed at times to be lacking. A case in mind is that when those unbelievers emptied a camelâs stomach over his head as he was prostrating himself in prayer. In fact, the unbelievers took comfort from the fact that he was without sons, saying that once he died, he would soon be forgotten.
It was Godâs will that he would have no direct line of offspring, because people would have attached a privileged position to his descendants. God has willed that Islam would not be linked to anyone or any group other than His messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Prophet stressed to all his relatives that their positions did not give them any privilege and that they were in exactly the same position as everyone else. Therefore, they needed to ensure their own salvation through hard work. Yet people, even today, think that those who are given the title âSyedâ, indicating that they have some relation to the Prophet through their ancestry, have a special status. How mistaken!
More than 20 years elapsed between the birth of Fatimah, the Prophetâs youngest daughter, and Ibraheem, his last son. Yet he had several wives, some of whom were in their twenties, i.e. in the prime period of reproduction, while others were mothers of children born in earlier marriages. There was nothing wrong with the Prophet or his wives to prevent the birth of children, as it was proven when he had his last son, Ibraheem. May be God wanted him to concentrate all his attention on the progress of his mission.
Yet he was always looking after his grandchildren, of whom he had a few. He also cared for the young children of his companions, particularly those who were close to him. When Jaafar, his cousin, died in battle, he went to enquire after his young children and to ensure that they lacked nothing.
Then he had Ibraheem, a son born when the father was about 60. With him a great hope was born, but only 18 months later, all the hope was extinguished as this young life was brought to an end. In all this, Muhammad (peace be upon him) provided a model of resigned acceptance of Godâs will. He taught us that when parents suffer the loss of a young child, that child will be waiting for them on the Day of Judgment, to take them by the hand into heaven. ¬